Review of Britannia and Company, Ballard Estate, Mumbai

Britannia and Company Ballard Estate

Britannia and Company Ballard Estate

Mumbai has the most Parsi families residing than any other city. I say that because of the numerous Parsi and Iranian cafés that have sprouted all over the city and many of which have remained here since generations. One of the sites claims that at one point of time there were approximately 400 Parsi/Iraninan joints in Mumbai which are slowly diminishing now. One such iconic café lies in the heart of Ballard Estate. Yes, most of you would have quickly recollected ‘Britannia and Company’.  Its Berry Pulav draws customers to its obscure location from all parts of the city.

Started in 1923, this café holds true to the tradition and charm of old Parsi café’s. But the first look of the café might put you off as everything out there seems dilapidated.  Run-down and chipped furniture, old crockery, walls full of soot and at times cob-webs, and a cat being fed right at the reception/billing counter. You feel that hygiene has gone to the dogs. Yet, people flock at this joint especially on a Saturday afternoon. The joint has very weird timings. It starts by 11 am and closes its operations by 4 pm. It is closed on a Sunday. Parking is also an issue on a crowded afternoon. And you can pay only in cash. Only INR allowed. Then what brings its patrons back time and again? May be, the good food and the personal touch of Mr Boman Kohinoor who receives all his guests even at the age of 86. You can read more about the history of this café and its cuisine on their blog.

Brittania and Company restaurant

Brittania and Company restaurant

We rushed to the Britannia and Company on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The wait time was approximately half an hour. A girl quickly took down our contact details and asked us to wait outside the café. There wasn’t any wait area and we stood there with baited breath to get a whiff of the famous berry pulav.  A stray dog slept outside the café on the pavement who was least bothered by the ever increasing customer line. A cat was being fed right at the reception counter and looked completely unaffected by so many human beings staring at her eating. A bird chirped away to glory. After 15 minutes, we were seated inside the café. The staff was friendly and prompt. They wre quick enough to guide us when we were over ordering. I ordered for Chicken Dhansak, Sali Boti and OH ordered the famous berry pulav. We were served food in no time. I also tried Raspberry Pallonjis, a fizzy drink which is stocked only at Parsi joints. If you love your cough syrup, then order one of these. But the glass bottle with red fizzy drink has its novelty value.  You can always try it once.

Berry Pulav, Dhansak and Raspberry Pillonji at Brittania Cafe

Berry Pulav, Dhansak and Raspberry Pillonji at Brittania Cafe

Dhansak is a stew made from pulses and meat (chicken, mutton, etc.) and is served with rice. It is bland. I tried it for the first time and may be would never go for it again. Sali Boti was mouthwatering.  Boneless pieces of mutton cooked in a rich gravy topped up with fine deep fried potato shreds. But the crown of the best food served at Britannia goes to berry pulav hands down. Its slightly flavoured rice served with thick meat stew topped with Parsi berries tastes excellent.  Its little sweet, little salty, little spicy and a little sour taste assaults your senses. The pulav isn’t oily and the meat is perfectly cooked. They also serve other Parsi delicacies like Patrnau Macchi, macchi fry, etc. They serve both veg and non-veg options.

My verdict – good for one time visit for its old world charm. (But If I have to go back, it will be only for Sali Boti and Berry Pulav.)  Price – expensive. Rs 450 for one plate Pulav and Rs 350 for Dhansak for a rundown place is expensive, isn’t it?

About MumbaiGloss

Parimita Chakravorty is an author, blogger, features writer and a communications specialist. She has written for various popular magazines and websites related to beauty, fashion, jewellery and lifestyle, including HAIR India, Femina.in, BeBeautiful.in, Hello, etc. She has also contributed to various youth blogs and magazines. Her book ‘Look Stunning At Any Size’ has been well appreciated and received by the readers. Currently, she is part of India’s leading IT brand and takes care of their internal communications. Parimita is also working towards bringing awareness about Endometriosis in India; a silent epidemic which is consuming a lot of lives. She manages a page ‘Endometriosis India Files’ where patients discuss their condition and diagnosis.
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